What's Your Testimony?
Karen and I had been married only two years when God started a new work in our lives. We were living in Spring Valley, N.Y., where Karen was an associate registrar at Nyack College and I was working as a family advocate at a residential treatment facility.
We were living in a two-bedroom apartment when we learned that tenants were not allowed to have pets. Now, we loved our pets, and the thought of getting rid of them was a difficult one. This “challenge” may have seemed trivial to non-pet owners, but it prompted a series of events and conversations that eventually stirred in us a calling from God to move on from the life we were living.
But where would we go?
We were attending the Montvale Evangelical Free Church at the time, and it seemed like every message our pastor preached was intended especially for our ears. Karen and I decided to talk with him about the stirrings in our heart. At dinner one evening, our pastor and his wife shared something that has transformed the way we have approached life ever since.
They told us that the Lord was establishing a “foundation of faith” early on in our marriage. They went onto explain that God wanted us to know that He is faithful and good; worthy of our complete trust, both for our marriage and for our future family one day. God was laying a foundation built on His faithfulness, preparing us for the days ahead when storms and challenges would come.
Karen and I have faced our share of challenges over the years, and we often reflect on that time – recalling what God was doing in our lives and how His perfect timing and presence has brought us to where we are today. He was giving our marriage “a testimony.”
Over the course of our 17 years of marriage, God has given us testimonies. When our kids ask us how we met, why we were engaged twice (that is another blog post), or some of the reasons why certain things have happened, we begin to unpack our story as a family. He gives us a testimony that continues to shape the Baldwin home, built on that firm foundation laid many years ago.
As author, Mark Batterson, writes in Draw the Circle:
“We cannot live off of someone else’s experience forever. Secondhand faith is as dangerous as secondhand smoke. We need a faith with our own name on it. We need to own it, and it needs to own us. We can’t just know what we believe; we need to know why we believe what we believe. And it must be continually upgraded.”
A faith with our own name on it. The Baldwin Family’s faith. That is what our pastor was describing. God was giving the Baldwins a testimony – a testimony that I will be proud to pass on to my kids one day.
So, what happened to Karen and me? Over the next few months, we kept our pets, left our apartment, applied to be house parents in Hershey, Penn., and put our stuff in storage halfway between Spring Valley and Hershey. Our families thought we were crazy! We were basically homeless for the next few months until we got the call to move to Pennsylvania. We discovered that God was faithful, and we continue to see His hand at work in our lives.
My prayer for all who read this is that you will know victory in this life because of your testimony and the power of the One in your stories. If you feel you don’t have a testimony, remember that it’s not too late. The day is ripe to go get one, and I would love to hear about it...
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Revelation 12:11).
Written by Roy Baldwin